It’s been a while since I posted an author interview. I’ll admit. But I’ve been busy. Writing stuff mostly. Fun stuff. Stuff you guys should be pretty excited about. And during my hiatus, I’ve met quite a few new authors. New, in the sense that I just met them. But also, some of them are just brand new authors…getting their feet wet with their very first book. Today’s author is just such a person, and I hope you’ll give the guy a shot and pick up his book when you finish reading this post.
I met Matthew through a mutual author friend, Jeremy Robinson. It’s probably safe to say that Matthew James is an even bigger fan of Jeremy’s as I am, and that will most definitely show up in his work…both his current book, and the many books to come. One of the things that I admire about this up-and-coming author is his passion. The guy is absolutely excited about the prospects that lay ahead, and it shows (he’s already shown me about a half a dozen book covers he’s designed for as many books in a variety of series.) Point is, Matthew James is on the ball, and I have a feeling you’ll be hearing quite a bit about him in the future.
For now, however, let’s talk about his current book, BLOOD AND SAND, Book One of the Hank Boyd Thriller series. Personally, I think Hank Boyd’s premise is actually rather cool, and I can’t wait to dig into the first book myself. Here’s what the Amazon book description says about BLOOD AND SAND:
A fierce sandstorm hits southern Algeria and uncovers a lost ruin, its location unknown to modern man…until now. A team led by slacker archaeologist, Harrison “Hank” Boyd, is called in to investigate the find.
In way over his head, Hank must lead his team through countless dangers and survive brutal encounters with enemies both human and inhuman alike. And if that’s not bad enough, a shadowy group with a thirst for violence and a blind ambition is hot on their heels and will stop at nothing to obtain what has been found.
Hank and company should have heeded the warning left by the ancient civilization who built this place. Expertly carved into the face of the golden relief found at the ruin entrance and written in perfect Latin is ‘liberate te ex inferis’…save yourself from hell.
Matthew James’s debut novel is an action-packed thriller reminiscent of Jeremy Robinson and Matthew Reilly. Sit back and enjoy yourself while getting lost in an adventure like no other.
Sounds pretty awesome, eh? For most readers of this blog (i.e. fans of adventure/thrillers involving treasure hunting and monsters), I’d say it’s right up your alley. But don’t take my word for it. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Matt about his book, his writing, and everything in between. So, sit back, relax, and learn more about this awesome new writer…and maybe find a new favorite author for your to-be-read list.
1) Tell us a little about Blood and Sand, your debut novel. What’s it about? Tell us some things about a few of the main characters.
Well let’s see, where to begin… Blood and Sand is about a regular guy named, Hank Boyd. He’s an archaeologist by profession, but not by education. He was hired by his father, who is famous and well respected in their world, as a simple digger. The book takes place ten years later and Hank is now a project leader and he himself well known.
They get called to northern Africa, specifically the southern part of Algeria, by a contact that Dr. William Boyd, Hank’s dad, has in the region. A ruin was found after a massive sandstorm ripped through the desolate area of desert, uncovering it.
I won’t go into much detail for fear of ruining the story, but let’s just say all hell breaks loose and Hank and his team are fighting for their lives and for those of the world.
As for the characters…
Like I said before Hank is a nobody in the world of archaeology when he’s hired. He’s actually a former major league baseball prospect who was injured in a game and had to retire because of those injuries. Down on his luck and locked up for mouthing off to a local cop, Dr. Boyd bails his son out of jail and brings him on to work for him.
Nicole Andersson is the female heroin and a complete polar opposite of Hank. She’s strong-willed, and doesn’t take anything from anyone. She is currently working as Dr. Boyd’s assistant and project leader for this current expedition in Algeria, sort of like an office manager in the field. She regulates everything in Dr. Boyd’s absence.
Next, we have Kane. We meet him a few chapters in, and for dire reasons. Hank and his father are attacked by a rogue outfit, landing Hank in a local hospital. Kane is an agent with the CIA and has come to aid Hank and company with any intelligence he can offer pertaining to the group that tried to kill them. He becomes the muscle of the group, and also has a welcomed comedic side to him.
And of course, Dr. Boyd. Hank’s dad is your typical uptight educated historian-type. Not quite Sean Connery’s role as Indy’s dad from Indiana Jones and Last Crusade, but not too far off either. He is definitely the brains of the outfit, but isn’t exactly used to roughing it while running for his life.
2) Tell us more about Hank Boyd, the main protagonist. He seems to have a very interesting back story. Fill us in.
Hank is unique in that he really doesn’t like his job very much. He’s good at it, and knows he’s good at it, but he doesn’t like the uptight stiffs that surround him while on the job. He’s smart and caring when he needs to be, and tough, and a born leader when he needs to be that. But Hank isn’t a super hero or some military badass either. He’s literally normal, just like the rest of us. What I really liked about writing this character is that Hank relies on his team for their help throughout the book. Kane is the real monster of the group and “leads” them physically. Nicole is the glue, holding them together. Dr. Boyd is the brain, steering them along. And Hank is the heart.
3) As I mentioned earlier, Blood and Sand is your debut novel. How long have you been writing? What prompted you to throw your hat in the ring? How did you come up with the story of Hank Boyd to get you started?
I started writing Blood and Sand back in August of 2014, so almost a year ago. I wanted to write a book for years, and getting to know some people in the biz like Jeremy Robinson, Kane Gilmour, Sean Ellis, and of course J. Kent Holloway, spurred me into action. I told my wife one night that I had an idea for a book and said I’d really like to try and write it. Her answer? “Why not.” So the next day I sat down and Googled, “How to write a novel.” I swear to you, that’s what I typed. From then on I took it day by day and learned what I could, asking questions to anyone I could talk to that had experience in the game.
I came up with the story slowly at first, trying to come up with a character I knew I would want to be. I won’t beat around the bush on this. His name is Harrison “Hank” Boyd, named after…ding-ding-ding…Harrison Ford, or more specifically the man who played Indiana Jones. Those movies were my childhood, like how some people are into Star Wars. I was an Indy freak growing up and still am to this day. My office is covered in Indiana Jones stuff. I always loved the genre of the adventure series, but mine is a little darker and Hank is a definitely little rougher around the edges.
4) Who or what are some of your biggest inspirations as a writer?
The men I mentioned before are the biggest. But Jeremy Robinson is by far my favorite author ever and luckily for me was major contributor to my want to write. He’s so approachable on social media and really loves his fans. I would ask him questions about his books and his characters, just wanting to know the inside scoop on things. Not for any major benefit either. I just love the myth and lore behind things, even if those things are fiction writers made up stories. It was almost like watching the behind the scenes footage of a movie or something.
5) Now I know something a lot of people don’t know…you’re already well on your way to writing the sequel to Blood and Sand. On top of that, you have quite a list of books in and out of this initial series. Want to tell us a little about the books you have planned for the future?
(The sound of a can of worms being opened) Sure, I’d love too. It’s no secret to anyone who has read Blood and Sand that it doesn’t technically end, per-say. The book does, but the saga continues and I’m really happy with the direction its going. Book 2 is almost done being written (the first draft that is) and I must say. I love it! I can’t wait to share the synopsis of it with the readers, hopefully by the end of summer. [Kent’s Note: As of yesterday, Matt has completed the first draft of book two.]
I have a bunch of other projects lined up to like you mentioned. The genres are all over the place too, just like the way I read. I have a paranormal action thriller I want to start writing, laced with some pretty amazing weapons and super-deep characters, all lead by an amazing female lead. It’s actually the second book I was going to write, but instead I decided to continue the Hank Boyd books instead.
6) Though you might have mentioned some of these in question 4, tell us the type of books you generally read? Who are some of your favorite authors? What about them appeals to you as a reader?
My favorite book ever is actually part of my favorite series ever. The book is Antarktos Rising, by—you guessed it—Jeremy Robinson. It was the first book I read of his, years ago and it instantly sent me into a frenzy to find his other work. My favorite series is the Antarktos Saga, of which Rising takes place in the middle of…sort of. The actual series was written later and runs parallel with Antarktos Rising, joining its characters and story after book 2.
I grew up a big Steve Alten fan too. If you read my ‘About the Author’ section on the back of Blood and Sand, or at the end of my ebook, you’ll see that I mention an extra credit assignment in high school that launched me into the world of reading. I read, MEG, the beginning of Steve’s flagship series in the 11th grade English class, for extra credit. I was just shy of an A and my teacher offered the assignment to me to get it there. We needed to write two pages, front to back, of a synopsis on the book. I did 6 and got high marks for it. The rest is history as they say.
Eventually I expanded my library to writers like, Jeremy, Matthew Reilly, Andy McDermott, James Rollins, and Rick Riordan (who doesn’t love the Percy Jackson books?). Then through Jeremy’s works, I found Kane Gilmour, Sean Ellis, and you Kent, who are a few of his co-authors and amazing writers in your own respects. I hunted you guys down as a fan at first, but we quickly became what I feel is good friends and you guys mentor to me.
My biggest appeal as a reader is pace. If I’m bored, I’ll close the book. Then it’s information that isn’t too over my head. If I get lost because I don’t know anything about the biology of a seahorse, or something like that, I get frustrated. Thankfully, you guys spin it in a way that I DO understand and it always comes out as entertaining.
7) There’s a question I always ask at the end of these interviews, and although currently, you only have the one book available, I find myself curious to see the answer from someone so new to the fold. If you could offer only one piece of advice to aspiring writers out there, what would it be?
My advice? Just try. Most people that I talk to about writing, that haven’t written a book, always tell me they wouldn’t know where to begin. The beauty of the internet! I Googled what I needed to find out and applied it to my work. Just try. Don’t sit there and want to write a book. Write the damn book!
Want to know something else? I do my own cover art. I have ZERO education in this regard. I was a B student with no college. I got a job right out of high school (hence why the grammar on my Facebook posts is iffy at best…but I’m not shy about it). I searched how-to, found a FREE program, and went to YouTube for video tutorials. People are flabbergasted that I do it myself, like you Kent. We have the same outlook from talking over the last year. You, a writer, can come up with a great idea for a book by seeing the right image at the right time. I have 9 covers including the second Hank Boyd book underway, and all of them were spurred by a glance at a picture. [Kent’s Note: I’ve seen his covers. Considering he has only been doing them for a little while with no formal education, and using a free graphic program that isn’t Photoshop, Matt’s got himself some skills!]
And as you know, young, struggling authors can only succeed with your help. Help with spreading the word. Help with reviews. Help with taking a chance and buying a new book from a new author. So help make someone’s dreams come true today…buy an ebook from someone you may have never heard of. And get lost in a wonderful world of adventure!